POETRY BREAK – “Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been” – Talbot House

It’s time for a poetry break. I know you’re used to my series “Let Me Tell You How I Died,” exploring the sacrifices made by soldiers and civilians in various military conflicts. However, I’ve decided to put that on hold for awhile. With everything going on, I just don’t have the heart to post it these days. The good news is I’ve been using the time to work on a new poetry series that’s a bit more upbeat for these troubled times. As an avid traveler, I’ve so been enjoying everyone’s recent posts about their past trips. It’s helped me travel all over the world without ever leaving my desk chair, and I can’t tell you how much these posts have made me smile over the last few months. They have inspired and comforted me so much that I decided it was time to return the favor.

A while back, I posted an article about a visit to a place call Talbot House in Belgium. This cozy space, and the kindly Priest who ran it, provided ample comforts for the troubled soldiers of WWI. In these troubling times of my own generation, I’ve found my thoughts wondering to Talbot House quite often. Since I can’t go there (or anywhere overseas) for some time to come, I decided to do the next best thing and put pen to paper, reliving my memories of this wonderful place. Here for you is the very first installment of my new  poetry series, “Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been.” Inspired by all of you, these are poems about some travel gems that have meant the most to me over the years. I do hope you enjoy it.

“Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been” – Talbot House

There’s a place tucked away in Belgium in the charming town of “Pop”

A place where all the crazy in the world really comes to a stop

Where it’s very quiet and peaceful, where the grass seems extra green

Where there’s a sun-filled room with tea and cakes they like to call “the canteen”

Welcome yourself to Talbot House, a friendly priest once said

It’s how he greeted the many soldiers who fought and cried and bled

He took them in with open arms, regardless of rank and file

He showed them compassion and gave them a shoulder, a place to stay awhile

A friendship corner helped lonely soldiers locate family or a friend

A music room and theater provided laughter without end

There were plenty of books for soldiers to borrow and pass away the day

Or they could stroll in the garden, where a petting zoo let them play

In the writing room they could post a letter after waiting so long

They could go to the sun-filled canteen room, for tea, cakes, and song

And a narrow ladder atop the stairs led to the best room in the abode

A quiet, humble chapel, where troubled warriors could take off a load

But the best part about Talbot House was the priest who ran the place

With his casual uniform, stocky build, and oh-so-friendly face

The boys all called him “Tubby” and he felt like one of their own

And for the happiness of those boys, Tubby worked himself to the bone

He broke strict army protocol to reunite brothers one last time

He lugged his portable organ to the trenches with all their danger and grime

He talked with boys and helped them process their overwhelming pain

He took them in and gave them a home, a place to stay dry in the rain

Hundreds and thousands of people walked through Tubby’s door

And he made every single one of them feel important and well cared for

All in his wonderful “every man’s club” in its quiet corner of Pop

It became its own cubby in history, that house where time seems to stop

A small corner of the big old world where peace reigned instead of war

Where soldiers could relax, make new friends, and escape all the blood and gore

Where a friendly priest who cared so much helped them with their needs

Who showed them compassion with soothing words and even better deeds

I never thought I’d see such a place with my very own eyes

But there came a hot summer in Europe where I got a most welcome surprise

I found myself ringing the bell of Talbot House, and a priest came out to greet me

He gave me a tour of the entire grounds, and there was so much to see

He showed us the garden, the theater and book rooms, the peaceful chapel too

The friendship corner, the old piano, and even the old petting zoo

Afterward I took a seat at a table in the canteen room

I enjoyed a warm cup of tea while the sun cast away all the gloom

Even after so many years, I felt old Tubby in the place

I heard his voice bellow a welcome, I felt him through time and space

I heard the soldiers singing and laughing, and banging those piano keys

I felt their happy smiles, I heard them whistle and tease

Tubby’s spirit is alive and well, you can feel it there all around

In Talbot House, where things slow down, and only smiles abound

And while I sat in his lovely chapel, he taught me something grand

Kindness will always win in the end, even when the world’s gone mad

M.B. Henry

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For more photos from Belgium and Europe, click here

To plan your own visit to Talbot House, or to donate to the upkeep of this incredible piece of history, visit their website

M.B. HENRY ON FURLOUGH – I’ve been writing up a storm lately between this website and a lot of intense work on my newest novel, which I have just begun querying. It’s time for a bit of a summer break! While our world travels for this year have been cancelled due to Covid-19, my husband and I will be taking a Quarantine-Friendly road trip in the near future, probably involving some nice tent camping and hiking in the wilderness. Feel free to follow along on Twitter and Instagram – handle @mbhenry1985. Posts, and visits to your amazing blogs, will continue in July.  Until then, my friends! 

64 Comments on “POETRY BREAK – “Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been” – Talbot House

    • Thanks so much Dave! So glad you liked it – it will be nice to spend some time in nature for a bit.

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed it 🙂 And yes, I’m sure our trip will be refreshing!

  1. So nice to read more of your poetry, M.B.! Best wishes for your querying on the novel. And have a fabulous road trip, too!

    • Thanks! I need all the good vibes I can get in those query trenches, they can be quite rough 🙂 I’m sure I’ll come back with some great pictures and more stories too 🙂

  2. M, I really enjoyed this poem. I could picture this cozy place and indeed it took me back in time. Thank you for this comfort that brought a smile to my face and joy in my heart. Keep on writing about the places you have been and the beauty you have seen.

    • Why thank you! Camping always spawns some adventures for us so I’m sure there will be some good stories when I get back haha.

  3. That was a beautiful piece of writing, MB. I completely understand the lack of enthusiasm for blogging right now. Everything feels challenging, even going to the grocery store. Enjoy your road trip – we are going out for our second meal this weekend. K x

    • We had our first dine-in just last night! Honestly it felt so weird, it was quite an adjustment haha. It was the most people I’ve been around in months, even with the tables spaced very far apart. Enjoy your second outing!

      • I am rethinking my decision, MB, because we have had a big spike in Covid in Texas. Glad you enjoyed your night out. Many more to come in the future. K x

      • There’s a spike starting here too. Glad we went out while we had the chance!

      • Have a lovely weekend, MB. Apparently the virus doesn’t like humidity so fingers crossed that will decrease the spread. 🤞

  4. I enjoy traveling when I read the other blogs, too. We are all so connected yet unconnected right now. It’s surreal. I wish you luck finding your voice in poetry (a very worthwhile adventure) and in socially distanced vacationing. How the world has changed.

    • Indeed! Feels very upside down these days doesn’t it? I have a lot of hope that some big positive changes will come out of all this.

  5. A lovely poem with a peaceful tone to brush away the chaos. Enjoy your camping trip and stay safe.

  6. A comforting and enlightening read. It is refreshing to read about some of the good priests – so many of the bad ones have been in the spotlight in the past year.

    • I do think there are lots of people out there trying to do good – even though it’s hard to see sometimes!

    • Thanks so much! I need all the luck and well-wishes I can get. Querying is a rough set of trenches but I’m determined! 🙂

  7. Love this! Talbott house sounds amazing, and I love that you could feel his laughter and spirit when you visited there. Adorable pic of you at the end, M.B.

  8. Ah, that ending brought tears to my eyes. It was lovely. I vaguely remembered the Talbot post, but the poem jogged my memory.

  9. What a delightful tribute to Tubby and Talbot House, they offered a respite that so many needed! Thanks for the history lesson and lovely pics, your poem depicts it well 🙂

    Know Talbot House in Sydney, a shelter for homeless men … oh that there were such places for women. But those running it felt women should be able to get a bed any night they wanted to eg sex for shelter …

    • 🙁 I know what you mean. Homelessness is a major problem where I live, and while there are some shelters and safe houses for women, there aren’t nearly enough.

    • I’m so very glad you enjoyed it 🙂 The novel is coming along alright!

      • Novels are so time consuming. I’m working on two with a third brewing in the back of my head. Keep going.

      • Indeed they are – I have a couple more on my computer that I’ve written but they aren’t ready for querying yet haha. It’s a tedious process.

    • So glad you enjoyed it! 🙂 That was a good day, one that got me smiling for sure.

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